Postmortem: Chicago Fire (1) at Seattle Sounders (2)
OTF’s Shane Nicholson is back, and keepin’ it real as usual…
Football first, right? Right.
Prevailing story is the Men in Red played well enough to win but didn’t because the defense was a shambles. But the defense has been a shambles all year. This wasn’t news, some sudden revelation on the Fire’s 2013 campaign. Set pieces are a mystery, and on many an occasion the back line has gone MIA from open play.
That said, the show started well with the Fire creating some quality chances early on. Chris Rolfe had a sitter he plowed straight at Gspurning (shocker, I know) before a brilliant piece of work from Dilly Duka on 26 minutes provided a can’t miss opportunity for Mike Magee, who slotted low and right past the Seattle ‘keeper. 1-0 good guys.
Then the comedy of errors kicked off. We’ll get to the handball itself later, as it bridges into the rest of the chat. Seattle’s first goal came from Sean Johnson chasing a cross he’d never get to, leaving his goal exposed. Bakary Soumare retreated and failed to pick up the only person in a green shirt in a position to get a shot on the open goal, Lamar Neagle, who was picked out with ease by Marc Burch to level it at one just shy of halftime.
Magee didn’t return for the second 45 and the match looked to slowly creep away from the Fire. Nyarko’s introduction on 67 minutes didn’t shift the dynamic, and Klopas did his “save a sub for the absolute dying minutes of a match when it’s unlikely to have an impact thing” by bringing on Danny Paladini for the continually ineffectual Rolfe on 84 minutes. Shortly thereafter, the Fire back line struck again when that very f*** angry man Soumare decided clearing a cross at his feet wasn’t really his thing and left it to a blind-sighted Gonzalo Segares, who finished the O.G. quite comfortably. 1-2, game over.
Then the fun began. Soumare, obviously quite proud of his body of work on the season and this night in particular, decided that the Fire’s own Senior Content Producer (aka Editor-in-Chief of chicago-fire.com, aka team Beat Writer) Jeff Crandall was quite poor on the night. You see, Jeff had the audacity to point out (during the match no less) that “Upon further review that was a pretty bad handball,” and it was. It was an egregiously bad handball. I’ve no idea what Jeff Larentowicz was having a go at referee Grajeda about; Soumare’s mock shock and being booked was laughable. There was every chance he was going to be sent off (again) so I’d say getting away with a yellow was a good buy. Luckily for Bad Boy Baky, Johnson made the save (the first missed penalty for the Sounders since 2011) and it looked like we might move past it.
But not for the first time this season could an employee of the Fire resist the urge to make a complete and utter cunt of it on social media. Maybe Bakary felt entitled by the week’s long brain-dead response to “The Editorial” from the front office? Maybe he heard about the owner’s friend who cursed at supporters leading to said editorial about abhorrent fan behavior creating a poor atmosphere at Toyota Park? Maybe he remembered the coach who earlier this season offered to “meet” this very writer at his local after I dared point out that Rolfe perhaps wasn’t worth his weight in gold? Whatever the case, Baky thought trolling a co-worker on Twitter (a guy who does his job selflessly, by the way) and responding with the highly clever “Upon further review you are pretty f*** terrible at what you do” was the appropriate course of action.
I know the Fire Communications staff can’t be responsible for a player acting like a total jackass because he fucked up repeatedly and may have single-handedly cost his team three needed points, but this is as glaring of a trend as the 2013 Fire’s shambolic defense (at least, when Cacha Rios isn’t around). Baky’s tweet was removed, because that’s what resolves the situation, right? But one would suggest, and one who works in the media and has done PR and image consultancy for a fair few years, that the Fire have opened a can of worms with their willingness to blame anyone but themselves for what’s happened on and off the pitch this year.
That US Open Cup collapse may end up being a watershed moment in more than one fashion for this year’s edition. Since then, the downhill trend on the pitch has been matched in its momentum by the negative stories the Fire themselves are creating. At the very least, for a neutral, it could be a hell of a show to watch.
Sadly, for Fire fans, it looks like the promise built upon the acquisition of Magee and that mid-season run will all be for nothing, and the story of this season increasingly looks to have little to do with the football.
One way to get the focus back on the pitch is to get back to winning. The team will have two chances to do that this week starting with a trip to Toronto on Wednesday, and another back home at Toyota Park versus New England on Saturday.
You have to hope they take advantage, or God help us for what we’ll find on our Twitter feeds come Thursday morning.